Doing Research in the 21st Century

by Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger

Athough this is not an exhaustive guide, it hopefully may be a good starting point. Automation, the internet and search engines have expanded the music research process. I recently was helping a fellow cabaret singer with some research on a new show she was thinking about putting together.

The theme for the show had to do with songs that a particular character sings in musical theater. (no, I am not going to give it away)

Using my computer, and my itunes library, (which I do have to admit is extensive in the musical theater genre), I listed every musical theater show for which I had a CD (over 500 CDs). I then called for some assistance from Mr. “Google with Glasses” (it helps to have a spouse like this in the house.) We went over the list, highlighting those shows that we thought might fit the criteria. Then I proceeded to put the list in a very safe spot in the house.

After two weeks of looking for the list, this morning, it magically appeared. (Thank you gremlins). In just three short hours, using Google, Yahoo!, Gracenote, Wikipedia, Amazon, iTunes, and Sheetmusicplus, I had verified the list of shows, found the names of the characters matching the criteria, and got a smattering of songs that the character sang in the show. Before the advent of the searching technology, this would have taken months to research, and I did it all this morning, sitting in my gym shorts and t-shirt, sipping diet coke. (alright, this may have been too much information, for a number of you, but it IS a blog, and at least there are no pictures.)

I have to tell you, the one source that I found amazingly useful was Wikipedia. It sees that even the more obscure shows, some that only had 7 performances, are listed with lots of useful information. Of course, as always, you have to be very careful about the validity of the information that is on these websites, since the information can be entered by just about anybody. But for initial research, and to get a high-level song list for a show, it beats going to the library, and searching periodicals. At least for me it does.

Signing off,